David Cesarani on Kaminski and the Tories on The Guardian’s Sounds Jewish.

Listen to the October edition of Sounds Jewish Here.

51 Responses to “David Cesarani on Kaminski and the Tories on The Guardian’s Sounds Jewish.”

  1. John Says:

    OT but. I clicked the link and it took me to the Guardian – I had to close my browser as I have made a vow not to buy/read the wretched thing again lest I fund them or promote them in any way. Of course, it is the Guardian that did so much to promote the disgrace that is Seven Jewish Children.

  2. zkharya Says:

    Well worth listening to. Caesarani rightly excoriates Pollard for defending Kaminski (duh!), and criticises the film The Enemy Within for poor history with the analogy of 1930s Bethnal Green Jewish anarchists to modern BG Bangledeshi Islamists.

  3. David Rosenberg Says:

    Very good interview on Kaminski by David Cesarani, who also did an very moving tribute (on Last Word, Radio 4)to the late Marek Edelman, the Bundist who was second in command in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, who died aged 90, at the same time as the row with the Tories and Kaminski was taking off.

    The JC editor has been far too busy sucking up to his new friend Kaminski and warding off criticism of David Cameron to have noticed Edelman’s death. There were lengthy obituaries on every major national paper and comment on BBC News but not in the JC.

    Kaminski is apparently forgiven because, alongside homophibic and pro-Pinochet comments, he makes pro-Israel statements. Edelman’s heroism is ignored, presumably because his lifelong support for human rights included support for the rights of the Palestinians too.

  4. zkharya Says:

    Marek Edelman in the JC:

    “Tributes for leader of Warsaw ghetto uprising”

    http://www.thejc.com/news/world-news/20673/tributes-leader-warsaw-ghetto-uprising

  5. NIMN Says:

    Once again Rosenberg aims to make cheap political points.
    many fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising were Zionists, just as some were Bundists, and some were non-alligned (It is true, of course, that the sectarianism that Rosenberg exhibits now was also at play between the diverse groups and responses to nazi murder). However, if Rosenberg wishes to erase Zionists from history, he would not be the first to do so.

    Secondly, Pollack outrageously defended Kaminsky. In the same paper and on the other page directly facing Pollacks’ comments was an article by Martin Bright, political editor, attacking Kaminsky and Pollard’s position http://www.thejc.com/comment/analysis/20817/analysis-kaminskis-opinions-should-ring-loud-alarm-bells . A week later there was an op-ed piece by David Aaronovitch http://www.thejc.com/davidaaronovitch overtly criticising Pollard’s comments.

    But, when one thinks about it I am not sure how different Pollack’s defence of Kaminski is from Rosenberg’s defence of those who adopt antisemitic rhetoric and imagery around the question of Israel. Both are willing to turn a blind eye to racism if its fits there personal and political agenda.

  6. zkharya Says:

    Rosenberg essentialises the JC as an homogenous entity, merely on the grounds that it is insufficiently anti-Zionist for him.

    Because his is a minority view, he misrepresents what he thinks the view of the majority, mainstream or “establishment” for his own political ends.

    Thus he invents the JC’s omission of Edelman, merely because his worldview says it must.

  7. Absolute Observer Says:

    Edleman was Bundist and was not a Zionist; was critical of Israel and of the terrorism used against Israel.
    He was a remarkable man who made the decision to stay in Poland apparently at the cost of his marriage in the face of Stalinist and nationalist antisemitism and “anti-Zionism”.
    He was a truly remarkable man.

    However, lookiing over the internet, the exploitation of Edelman by anti-Zionists is most unedifying to say the least.

    We see shadows of this in Rosenberg’s case, (by no means the worst offender). Somehow, Edelman’s choices are valorised in inverse proprortion to those who made other choices in similar difficult decisions. It is as if Edelman’s is the only choice worthy of the appelation “principled”
    Indeed, some “bloggers” use Edelman’s choices and principles as an excuse to push the li(n)e of Zionist “collaboration” and ,thus, the Zionist-Nazi symbiosis.

    Ironically, it is the anti-Zionists who are forever harping on and on about how “Zionists” and “Israel” “exploit” the Holocaust, but compared to their own words and actions, the latter are mere beginners.

    Not only is it unseemly and disrespectful to Edalman and others, it is premised upon a false rendering and interpreation oof history. They shoulld be ashamed of themselves.

  8. David Rosenberg Says:

    Zkharya – thanks for the link to the JC web report – but why do you think it was absent from the printed edition? Nothing a week after he died and a passing half-sentence in Martin Bright’s piece the following week, in an article about Kaminski. I know several Zionists as well as anti-Zionists who thought this was disgraceful and some of the former have written to the JC. Maybe tomorrow – three weeks after Edelman passed away – they will do the decent thing. The contrast with Pollard’s admiration for Kaminsdki was both striking and sickening.

    Once again NIMN puts words in my mouth “Rosenberg wishes to erase Zionists from history”, that are not there in my post and exist only in his/her imagination.

    On the same visit to Poland in 1997 where I met Edelman and heard him speak (at a conference marking the 100th anniversary of the Bund) I also visited the memorial above the bunker where some of the last of the ghetto fighters including their Hashomer Hatzair leader Anielewizc took their lives rather than allow the Nazis to kill them. The only people doing the erasing were the Nazis.

  9. David Rosenberg Says:

    Oh well – on a quick scan before I left home this morning it seemed the JC had not done the decent thing (and neither have they published letters complaining about the ommission which I know have been sent). Still at least Edelman’s remarkable life was remembered well in many other publications here and abroad.

    A zionist academic emailed me just over a week ago to say
    “I hope the JC will do the honours to Edelman on Friday; but under Pollard, who knows.”

    Zkharya claims that “Rosenberg essentialises the JC as an homogenous entity” – which is bit odd since the longstanding JC journalist Simon Rocker was the guest speaker I introduced at the most recent Jewish Socialists’ Group public meeting – so if you must have a pop, at least be accurate and up to date. And besides, if you read my post you will see it is targetted solely at the editor. I’m very heartened that other JC columnists are standing up to Pollard’sdisgraceful views. And I believe that Freedland added to the criticism over Kaminski this morning.

    You have to wonder where Pollard would stand on other far right polituicians with odious views on several subjects who express strong support for Israel – such as Berlusconi and le Pen. Perhaps on this matter, the embrace for Israel by the least popular member of the Question Time panel last night would have given Pollard pause for thought.

  10. NIMN Says:

    Thanks David for your comments.

    I take the point regarding Zionist resistance and withdraw my comment. I in no way wished to infer that your silence on Zionist resistance in your first comment in any way whatsoever could be compared to the annihaltion of Jews. For that I apologise without reservation whatsoever. And you are also correct to say there were not implied in your comments. Again, apologies.

    On another note, what is still valid is that what separates you from Pollard is less a matter of principle, but merely the political coloration of those with whom alliances are sought.

    Whilst it is truly disgusting that Pollard should defend Kaminski because of his alleged support of Israel, it is no less disgusting than the alliances and silences that you and your sect have made with ohers espousing antisemitism (and who may or may not be antisemites) around the question of Israel, some of whom you give voice to in your own journal.

    “But, when one thinks about it I am not sure how different Pollard’s’s defence of Kaminski is from Rosenberg’s defence of those who adopt antisemitic rhetoric and imagery around the question of Israel. Both are willing to turn a blind eye to racism if its fits there personal and political agenda.”

  11. NIMN Says:

    Since the question of the JC has arisen, there is little doubt that the paper is suffering under Pollard’s editorship. Whilst opinions and op-eds remain diverse, the general tenor of the paper has moved to that of a right-wing tabloid (perhaps most emblematic of this shift is the use of a “balloon bubble” in what was an important story).
    Whilst, personally, I would welcome a shift/return in a leftward direction, I recognise that each paper (including the JC) is free to determine its own editorial perspective. However, when the shift in politics is matched by a reduction in quality of the paper itself, that is a problem.

    As others have commented, whilst the silence around Edelman is unforgivable it is symptomatic of the JC’s current direction under Pollard.

  12. NIMN Says:

    “Perhaps on this matter, the embrace for Israel by the least popular member of the Question Time panel last night would have given Pollard pause for thought.”

    Interestinly, in the Guardian today, this comment was picked up.

    “On Israel and Islam
    Griffin said the BNP was the only party which, in the clashes between Israel and Gaza, “stood full square behind Israel’s right to deal with Hamas terrorists.”

    Analysis: He has replaced antisemitic rhetoric with Islamophobia. Perhaps the most curious BNP policy is its “ironclad offer” to the Muslim world to give them a free hand in the Middle East if they will take back “all their people currently colonising this country”.”

    Whilst it is obvious that Rosenberg’s anti-fascist credentials are beyond reproach (at least, if it appears from the right) it is always worth remembering never to take what a nazi says at face-value. On the matter of Israel, like everything else, Griffin lied – it’s waht nazs do.

  13. zkharya Says:

    “so if you must have a pop, at least be accurate and up to date.”

    You mean omitting to mention the JC had mentioned Edelman was accurate or up to date?

    You did attack “theJC” for not mentioning Edelman.

  14. zkharya Says:

    Well, I now have the obituaries editor’s direct number, and I will ring on monday, when she’s in, and report back. OK?

  15. zkharya Says:

    “Perhaps on this matter, the embrace for Israel by the least popular member of the Question Time panel last night would have given Pollard pause for thought.”

    Why? Does it mean I am either a supporter of Kaminski or the BNP?

  16. John Says:

    ….”the embrace for Israel by the least popular member of the Question Time panel last night would have given Pollard pause for thought.”

    How low can you go?

  17. zkharya Says:

    As for Kaminski in the JC, Kaminski is a British issue.

  18. Absolute Observer Says:

    ”the embrace for Israel by the least popular member of the Question Time panel last night would have given Pollard pause for thought.”

    Rosenberg’s Kaminski moment……..

    “Analysis: He has replaced antisemitic rhetoric with Islamophobia. Perhaps the most curious BNP policy is its “ironclad offer” to the Muslim world to give them a free hand in the Middle East if they will take back “all their people currently colonising this country”.”

    The words. “glasshouse” and “stones” come to mind here.

    Interesting that not one person here has defended Pollard (nor Kaminski), nor the possible exclusion of Edelman, but still Rosenberg goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on.

    You would think that he would spend his energy on people who actually disagree with him or alternatively acknowledge common ground. Instead, he goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on as if Engage is a front for the JC!! Quite sad really.

  19. Waterloo Sunset Says:

    “Analysis: He has replaced antisemitic rhetoric with Islamophobia. Perhaps the most curious BNP policy is its “ironclad offer” to the Muslim world to give them a free hand in the Middle East if they will take back “all their people currently colonising this country”.”

    Whilst it is obvious that Rosenberg’s anti-fascist credentials are beyond reproach (at least, if it appears from the right) it is always worth remembering never to take what a nazi says at face-value. On the matter of Israel, like everything else, Griffin lied – it’s waht nazs do.”

    Yes and no.

    Firstly, it’s undoubtably the case that Griffin and the inner cadre of the BNP are antisemites. I’m assuming we’re in agreement there. However that doesn’t, in itself, preclude genuine support for Israel. (Le Pen is the obvious example there).

    And I think you’re wrong to write off this shift as entirely for propaganda purposes. That’s certainly a strong element. But I do think that we’ve also seen an actual shift for tactical and (to a lesser extent) ideological reasons as well.

    Griffin has been all over the shop ideologically, within the confines of fascist belief. But the one constant is that the man is an utter opportunist. That’s vital to take into account for this kind of analysis.

    Which I think gives us one potential internal reason for this shift. By playing down antisemitism, Griffin outrages the hardliner Tyndall loyalist faction. Isolating them more within the BNP and possibly provoking enough of a reaction to expel any of those remaining he sees as a threat to his power. I’d say there’s a strong chance of that being at least an element here.

    The big question is only linked to Israel indirectly. In essence, are the BNP’s calls for alliances with sections of the Jewish community genuine. (From the BNP’s point of view). Tentatively, I’d say they probably are, at least in the short term. The fact that they do have a single Jewish councillor (Pat Richardson) is evidence of that. This is actually a repeat of tactics they’ve used before with the Sikh and Hindu communities. It’s about trying to find groups they can ally with against Muslims. It obviously doesn’t make them less antisemitic, any more then their previous attempts made them suddenly pro Sikh.

    Thankfully, this tactic has had little to no success, but the intention is there. And it seems to me that Griffin actually has shifted ideologically to seeing Muslims as the main enemy, certainly in the context of the UK. It’s the influence of the Le Pen type ‘euronationalism’ strand of fascism coming into play. (Arguably brought into the BNP by Lecomber). I think the BNP have been heavily influenced by the ‘clash of civilisations’ thesis.

    So that would be my view of where the BNP are at the moment.

    I should say that the whole tactic of pointing to single BNP policies that someone you politically disagree with happens to share (whether that’s support for Israel or being against the Iraq War) strikes me as rather silly. It’s cheap student union debating society tactics, not grown up politics. We’re getting close to “Hitler had a moustache and so do you!” type stuff.

    However, I do think David Rosenberg has a valid point on Pollard’s support for antisemites who also support Israel. It is reasonable to ask what this could lead to, now the precedent has been set. Pollard has shown that he is prepared to do this, so there is a question of whether he will end up overtly supporting fascists who support Israel. He isn’t there yet. But I don’t think it’s entirely unfeasible considering his current behaviour. Worth keeping an eye on at least.

    If it does happen, it becomes a matter for antifascists to deal with. I think it’s fair to say that antifascism is outside Engage’s stated remit. Which is fair enough. All I’d really hope is, if that does become necessary, Engage leave us to get on with it.

    • Richard Gold Says:

      “All I’d really hope is, if that does become necessary, Engage leave us to get on with it.”

      Why ?

      • Waterloo Sunset Says:

        Because Engage are a single issue campaign. And that single issue isn’t anti fascist work. And if it did come down to a situation where Pollard was allying with fascists (which, to repeat, is still currently hypothetical) I think it would muddy the waters if groups that aren’t primarily antifascist in focus were getting involved. I’d not be in favour of the Women’s Institute or the Campaign for Real Ale getting involved either, for the same reason. I merely specified Engage as it’s the Engage website.

        I wouldn’t expect Engage to mobilise against the EDL either. It’s simply not your focus.

        That’s not to preclude Engage supporters getting involved as individuals, to make that clear. I simply don’t think it would be helpful for Engage to pick up something like this as an organisation. I will say openly I’d be keenest on those Engage members with experience of antifascist work doing so. Particuarly when it comes down to tactical discussions, there’s a certain frame of reference I think it’s useful for people to have.

  20. Richard Gold Says:

    “You would think that he would spend his energy on people who actually disagree with him or alternatively acknowledge common ground. Instead, he goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on as if Engage is a front for the JC!! Quite sad really.”

    http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/10/06/macshane-is-right-the-board-of-deputies-and-stephen-pollard-are-wrong/

  21. Absolute Observer Says:

    ws,
    Thanks for your comments as to the position on the BNP.

    As to Rosenberg’s Kaminski’s moment; the point being made is that whilst Rosenberg is correct to criticise and oppose Pollard’s defence of Kaminski, he needs also to look at his own alliances. In so doing, he may realise that he too is supping with the devil.

    I am not so grateful for your patronising attitude regarding “leaving it to the experts” as regards antifascist work.

    So far the antifascist experts have not really done a very good job, have they?

    A UK fascist party now has 2 MEP’s and a series of councillors. They have scored a coup on being invited onto Question Time. Judging by today’s news, they have gained substantially in many ways, especially with the idea that Griffin was “picked on”.

    As far as I am aware, there is a rather nasty politics floating around in the “anti-fascist” movement (which you present as a monolithic block). If I recall, Searchlight – one of the most credible of anti-fascist and anti-nazi organisations – have been the subject of some rather nasty manouverings leading to their expulsion from certain other “anti-fascist” bodies.

    David Rosenberg himself refuses to acknowledge the utility of the CST because of his obsession with the malevolence of the “Jewish establsihment”.

    Correspondingly, there is the link between antisemitism and antifacism. Whilst theoretically there is a distinction between fascism and nazism (and antisemitism), it has dissolved despite the tactical changes you note in your analysis of the current situation. A loose coalition of anti-anti-semites (which is the most Engage can be said to be) has much to do and say on anti-fascism both as individuals and as a website.

    Finally, but by no means least. As the experience of many anti-anti-semites have found (and as the example of Searchlight and of individual experiences), elements of the anti-fascist movement need to be educated on the connections between anti-fascism and anti-semitism.

    So, rather than “hoping” that Engage does not get involved, I would have thought, judging by recent history, you would have welcomed (and needed) as much help as you can get.

    Of course, a cynic may well raise the possibility that Engage’s insistence on raising the question of antisemitism not only in groups anti-fascists oppose, but also within the groups doing the opposing could could well prove a bit of an embarrassment, especially with the juvenile connections made between parties like the BNP and “Zionists”. (One need only look at STWC as an example of this situation; a group whose membership and politics overlaps with certain anti-fascist organisations)

    I cannot remember the Latin, but somebody has to watch the watchers; this is no more true precisely at the moment when the Watchers say they have it covered.

    In short, you may “hope” as much as you like; but I afraid your hopes may prove to be in vain.

  22. Absolute Observer Says:

    I am not sure what it means to say that if Pollard were to ally with fascists it would “muddy the waters”.

    The position is quite clear as virtually every poster here has shown. It is to be opposed unconditonally and without question; no ifs and no buts

    Not much mud there; unless, of course, you are implying that because Engage fights antisemitism, it is somehow “forgiving” of Jews who appear willing to ally with fascists in the name of their alleged support for Israel (a common mistake of those on the anti-fascist left)

    Obviously, that cannnot be your position since that would imply a good dose of mal fide and dishonesty as to what “Engage” believe and stand for.

    So, tell you what, maybe just leave it to Engage to decide who and what it chose to fight, how it choses to fight and who it choses align with in that fight, rather than spouting off like some sort of old-time party hack.

  23. Calendar Girl Says:

    “I’d not be in favour of the Women’s Institute ”

    I thought we did a rather good (if not better) job on Tony Blair than many so-called political specialists. Compared to a man with the power of government behind him, the bunch of thugs that is the EDL should prove child’s play.

    Thank you for your concern for the well being of a bunch of old ladies, but I think we can look after ourselves and make our choices all by ourselves.

    However, just to make you feel better, I attach the following,

    http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/10710/basic+scones

  24. NIMN Says:

    On one level, whether the BNP see Muslims as the “main enemy” of Jews is beside the point.

    Of course they seek to intice Jews to the BNP, and some fools will be attracted despite the inherent antisemitism of that party.

    Yet, it is also the case that the BNP’s professed support for Israel has other, more important implications.

    First, it serves to place another wedge between Jews and Muslims and, as such, furthers the antisemitism that exists and being exploited within the Muslim “community” as well as the Islamophobia that exists and, albeit a lesser extent, exploited in the Jewish community (the recent tenor of the JC is expressive of this shift).

    In other words, Griffin’s alleged support for Israel can be explained less as “genuine” support (unless uderstood as a place to repatriate Jews who he thinks was not present when the ice-shields melted!), but as a means to further inflame inter-communal tensions and to isolate two groups from organising around a common threat.

    As such, the tensions that it serves to inflame acts, for Griffin, as a further “illustration” of the alleged failures of multiculturalism and of a civil society allegedly wracked by “crisis”.

    Secondly, the association Griffin is trying to make between Jews and the BNP feeds upon and into a now common set of associations made within the left; that of the link made between Zionists and Nazis, thereby furthering the isolation of Jews and Zionists within the generally left’s tenor of the anti-fascist movement. (one need only look at the way in which Jewish groups who support the existence of Israel (and indeed those for whom the question of Israel when it comes to fighting indigenous (!) fascism is an irrelevance) have been treated.)

    (Can you imagine the reception a person with the star of david as an affirmation of Jewish identify and Jewish opposition would be received by many at an anti-fascist demonstration?)

    Unfortunately, the conclusion has to be reached that it is the current condition of the left and its position on Israel that has allowed Griffin to exploit the Israel-Palestine conflict in the way he has (as much as its own internal politics). It has been the anti-Zionst left that allows and perpetuates the connection between Israel and nazism to be made and which Griffin is exlpoiting and which leaves Jews isolated in the current worrying climate. (How many times have Jews been asked their position on Israel when attending an anti-fascist event? How many times does Israel come up as an emblem of fascism at those same events?)

    (Needless to say, Griffin’s use of Israel and the Israeli flag is also used a cheap means of “goading” Muslisms.)

    Unfortunately, WS has fallen into the trap in his belief that Islamophobia is the “new antisemitism” and that fighting solely on this terrain is the “way forward”.
    As with so many WS has made the mistake of taking the BNP at face-value and of accepting the “heirarchy” of racism that he believes guides BNP policy.

    Needless to say, he is wrong.

    Antisemitism is as prevalent in the BNP as Islamophobia. Indeed, it can be argued, as I have, that Griffin’s exploitation of Israel is aimed not as Muslims nor as enticing Jews but of leaving them more alienated and at risk than of any other group. This is especially the case through the errors the left have made on the question of anti-Zionism, antisemitism and the link of Israel with nazis.

    None of this, of course, should assume that the fight against Islamophobia should be lessened and “replaced” by the fight against antisemitism. To argue that would be to accept the categories and heirarchies that the BNP seek to impose upon the complexities of the social world (which, in effect, WS is doing – and, as such, has lost the battle before it has begun).

    What is needed is to recall what has now been reduced to a cliche; that an attack on one is an attack on all. Theoretically and strategically, that means thinking and acting outside and beyond the catergories of “Jew” and “Muslim” that the BNP wish to impose on its enemies and opponents in an operation of “divide and rule” (and which WS has fallen for hook, line and sinker).

    THe BNP want to split its opposition. It is for antifascists not to fall into that trap. Unfortunately, the runes don’t look particularly good.

    In short, the fight against antisemitism and facism, just as the fight against antisemitism, Islamophobia and fascism, just as the fight against antisemitism, Islamophobia, homophobia and fascism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, gender discrimination and fascism is one and indivisible. Until the anti-fascist movements realise that, they are doomed to failure.

    After all, the fact that the nazis might put badges representing different “species” of people should not be taken as either a true representation of those people (either indiviudally or collectively) so marked nor to overlook the fact that, despite all alleged “differences”, all were forced to wear a badge.

  25. Comrade T Says:

    “has shifted ideologically to seeing Muslims as the main enemy”

    The 21st century is not 1890’s France nor 1920’s or 1930’s Germany. However, history should teach us something.

    In the first period, at the time of the Dreyfuss period, it was only at the last moment that the anti-fascists came to take the right’s antisemitism seriously.

    In the second period, the antifascist movement believed that the “main enemy” of German fascism (as it was then termed) was the working-class and downplayed its antisemitism. Indeed, many antifascists accepted the notion of “Jewish capital” as an alien imposition that was part of nazi ideology.

    And, now, apparently, the “main enemy” are Muslims and those fighting antisemitism should “butt out”.

    Ironically, even in the eras of the most overt antisemitism, antisemitism and Jews have never been treated by the antifascists as the “main enemy”. The results have been catastrophic; and not only for Jews.

    One would have thought that even Waterloo Sunset would have learnt something of the nature of fascism, of the nature of antisemitism and the mistakes that antifascists have made in the past – and, apparently, are continung to make in the present.

    Leave it to the antifascists? Yeah, right!

  26. 701 Says:

    When the major anti-fascist organisation ceases to be a SWP front,

    http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2009/08/29/just-what-uaf-swp-doing

    When the SWP/UAF stop supprting the reading of Perdition on HMD

    http://www.workersliberty.org/node/7583

    When the SWP stop drawing cartoons that equate Israeli Jews with nazis
    “ITS FUNNY HOW WELL THOSE OLD UNIFORMS OF YOUR GRANDADS FIT THESE PLO TERRORISTS.”

    When the number of visible swastikas is less at an “anti-Israel” march (equating Jews with nazis) than it is is at a BNP rally (both BNP and antifascists) then and only then will you have any legitimacy in pontificating on who should and should not take part in the antifascist struggle.

  27. Anti-fascist Says:

    How sweet.

    Terry and Julie seem to think that they can draw a hard and fast distinction between antisemitism, Islamophobia and fascism as if the three aren’t related.

    1. The fight against antisemitism entails the fight against all forms of racism including, but not exhausted by, the fight against Islamophobia.

    2. Whilst the fight against antisemitism is not limited to its appearance within fascism it is certainly as element within it and so the one involves the other and, therefore, the commands the involvement of anti-antisemitic groups.

    3. They seem to think that simply because the BNP have chosen to focus on Muslims, anti-antisemitism be placed on the backburner and/or distracts from the “real issue”.

    3. Unfortunately, as someone else commented, there appears to be a good dose of antisemitism within those that claim the anti-fascist mantle.

    4. Most importantly, as any socialist should know, a society that produces Islamophobia produces antisemitism along with other forms of reaction.

    Waterloo Sunset may appear to know the inner workings of the BNP as fascist party, but, unfortunately, knows little about the social context and social content of fascism.

    Indeed, their own comments indicate precisely why anti-fascism cannot be left to those who claim a monopoly on it

  28. NIMN Says:

    “But on the other hand we have a state [Israel] which is fiercely nationalistic, whose Government is underpinned by an ideology which wants an exclusive Jewish state if this were possible and a state controlled on behalf of its Jewish population in actuality. So the BNP leaders, most prominently Lee Barnes, present Israel as a model to aspire towards, an example which British Nationalists should follow.”

    I found this one one of a trillion leftist sites.
    It is from an article commissioned by the SWP, but because of “past and present differences” was not published in their paper.

    In this excerpt we see the argument made that the BNP’s “love” of Israel said to be based on “the fact” that it represents the BNP’s “dream” or “ideal” state. In other words, Israel is the fascist, “racist” state par excellence. (This image of Israel is that of the “socialist” writer). It is this rubbish that passes for respectable comment on the “anti-fascist” left.

    No wonder WS wants to keep the anti-antisemites away from the “anti-fascist” movement. Perhaps, he will know what we will find there. Could be kind of embarrassing, don’t you know.

    No wonder WS refuses arguments that link left anti-fascist alliances and arguments with right-wing fascist alliances and arguments. After all, the idea of Jews as nazis seems to be a common meeting ground for both fascist and “anti”-fascist alike.

    No wonder WS wants to keep the anti-antisemites away from the “anti-fascist” movement. Perhaps, he will know what we will find there.

  29. NIMN Says:

    Oh, and this gem.
    How to be an anti-fascist and convert a Zionist,

    http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=14720

    And, finally on this point,
    This is a further quote from the article I mentioned above,

    “The second factor is that whereas Islamaphobia is now respectable and falls from the lips of the politicians and front pages of the newspapers, anti-Semitism in the public arena at least, is taboo, although there is still plenty of it around. The third issue is Zionism and the state of Israel. Ruth Smeed of the Board of Deputies of British Jews said recently in the Guardian “The BNP website is now one of the most Zionists on the web – it goes further than any of the “mainstream parties in its support for Israel”. n what passes for fascist thought, Zionism, Jews and Judaism are usually all rolled together as one thing.”

    So, it would seem, the love affair between the Jews and the BNP is sealed. Well, that is true, until you find the original article in the Guardian referred to,

    “Ruth Smeed, of the Board of Deputies, said: “The BNP website is now one of the most Zionist on the web – it goes further than any of the mainstream parties in its support of Israel and at the same time demonises Islam and the Muslim world. They are actively campaigning in Jewish communities, particularly in London, making a lot of their one Jewish councillor, their support of Israel and attacking Muslims. It is a poisonous campaign but it shows a growing electoral sophistication.””

    And WS wants to leave it to this shower. Who is he kidding?

  30. Waterloo Sunset Says:

    Absolute Observer-

    “A UK fascist party now has 2 MEP’s and a series of councillors. They have scored a coup on being invited onto Question Time. Judging by today’s news, they have gained substantially in many ways, especially with the idea that Griffin was “picked on”.”

    Absolutely. As previously predicted in this article- http://classagainstclass.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=250:filling-the-vacuum&catid=21:general-pamphlets-texts-and-articles&Itemid=15 So possibly it’s time to actually take the failure of establishment antifascist tactics on board rather than shooting the messenger?

    “As far as I am aware, there is a rather nasty politics floating around in the “anti-fascist” movement (which you present as a monolithic block). If I recall, Searchlight – one of the most credible of anti-fascist and anti-nazi organisations – have been the subject of some rather nasty manouverings leading to their expulsion from certain other “anti-fascist” bodies.”

    It obviously isn’t a monolithic block, however, there is a difference between tactical/ideological arguments between antifascists and the views of people with no proven track record.

    Although, for the record, I supported the AFA proscription of Searchlight and still do. We can thrash this one out if you wish?

    “Finally, but by no means least. As the experience of many anti-anti-semites have found (and as the example of Searchlight and of individual experiences), elements of the anti-fascist movement need to be educated on the connections between anti-fascism and anti-semitism.”

    I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with that. I’d merely say that those placed to do it are those who know the area. The recent talk at the anarchist bookfair by Morris Beckman being precisely the kind of event we need.

    “Of course, a cynic may well raise the possibility that Engage’s insistence on raising the question of antisemitism not only in groups anti-fascists oppose, but also within the groups doing the opposing could could well prove a bit of an embarrassment, especially with the juvenile connections made between parties like the BNP and “Zionists”. (One need only look at STWC as an example of this situation; a group whose membership and politics overlaps with certain anti-fascist organisations)”

    Well then, why don’t Engage get involved with antifascist work in the here and now. Is it unreasonable that I think that people should be prepared to actually put some antifascist work in before they get to shout the odds about what antifascists should and shouldn’t be doing tactically?

    “Not much mud there; unless, of course, you are implying that because Engage fights antisemitism, it is somehow “forgiving” of Jews who appear willing to ally with fascists in the name of their alleged support for Israel (a common mistake of those on the anti-fascist left)

    Obviously, that cannnot be your position since that would imply a good dose of mal fide and dishonesty as to what “Engage” believe and stand for.”

    No, I’m saying Engage is not an antifascist group. I’m perfectly capable of saying what I wish to, but thank you for your concern.

    “So, tell you what, maybe just leave it to Engage to decide who and what it chose to fight, how it choses to fight and who it choses align with in that fight, rather than spouting off like some sort of old-time party hack.”

    Fair enough. Then maybe accept that some of us won’t take seriously those people who don’t put their necks on the line when they talk about antifascism.

    NIMN-

    “In other words, Griffin’s alleged support for Israel can be explained less as “genuine” support (unless uderstood as a place to repatriate Jews who he thinks was not present when the ice-shields melted!), but as a means to further inflame inter-communal tensions and to isolate two groups from organising around a common threat.”

    Absolutely. I don’t think I said anything that preludes that. (In fact I said clearly that I believe that the inner cadre of the BNP are as antisemitic as they’ve always been).

    “Secondly, the association Griffin is trying to make between Jews and the BNP feeds upon and into a now common set of associations made within the left; that of the link made between Zionists and Nazis, thereby furthering the isolation of Jews and Zionists within the generally left’s tenor of the anti-fascist movement. (one need only look at the way in which Jewish groups who support the existence of Israel (and indeed those for whom the question of Israel when it comes to fighting indigenous (!) fascism is an irrelevance) have been treated.)”

    I agree with that totally. In fact, the question of Israel is an absolute irrelevance for the British fascist movement and any attempts to make that not the case are utterly bankrupt. It would be more productive if people would stop assuming they know my views on issues and just asked me what I thought.

    701-

    (This also answers other people’s points I think). I’m neither a member nor a supporter of the UAF/SWP. So I’m not sure why you hold me responsible for the politics of groups I actually consider counterproductive tactically a lot of the time.

    Actually, the response of Engage supporters here reminds me a lot of when the SWP relaunched the ANL. And were outraged to not be considered leaders of the antifascist movement when they hadn’t been in the arena for years.

    Cheers, glorious proletariat vanguard. But we don’t need your expert analysis.

    I think that’s everyone main points addressed. But if not, do ask. To summarise, if you want to be involved in the antifascist movement, get involved now. And not just on this specific issue. Don’t pontificate from ivory towers and expect militants to fall in line behind you. Because from where I’m standing, if you’re not prepared to put your neck on the line, you’ve made a deliberate decision to vacate the antifascist arena.

  31. Waterloo Sunset Says:

    As an afterthought, I can honestly say no political associate of mine would go out drinking with Atzmon. And if they did they’d no longer be someone I would work with and I’d publically condemn them for it.

    And yes, that’s one of my main issues with Engage.

    “It’s ok to associate with antisemites if you’re our mate”.

    • Richard Gold Says:

      “And yes, that’s one of my main issues with Engage.

      “It’s ok to associate with antisemites if you’re our mate”. ”

      Can you back that up ? And when you realise what a stupid comment you’ve made…………..

  32. Waterloo Sunset Says:

    Yep. Absolutely. David T went drinking with Atzmon and Engage refused to condemn him for it..

    *Shrugs*

    I make no apologies for bringing that up. People were insinuating that I work politically with antisemites when I don’t. I think it’s entirely valid to point out, that actually, my hands on this issue are cleaner than Engages.

  33. Absolute Observer Says:

    Ah, WS as member of the “front generation”.

    “Aye, we were out in them trenches, and all you bourgeous shits were sitting at home whilst we risked our lives; saying this and saying that. What would you know. All you did was sit at home and criticise?”

    Or, in another version (which actually appeared during a UCU discussion on opposing the BNP),

    “Aye, we were out in them trenches and all you Jews were sitting at home whilst we risked out lives, saying this and saying that. What would you know? All you do is sit at home and criticise”

    And, what action, what danger what risk WS is taking……………turning up to a Book Fair!
    “The recent talk at the anarchist bookfair by Morris Beckman being precisely the kind of event we need.”)

    (Of course, actually reading the books after the sheer hell of catching a bus and listening to someone speak may be beyond his, or for that matter, anyone’s endurance (of course, it could have been raining, and his mum refused to pick him up in the car). One should never forget the blood, the sweat, the inferno that is Haye-on-Wye! Their name liveth for evermore!)

    WS. Just grow up will you. You really are making a complete prat of yourself.

  34. NIMN Says:

    “To summarise, if you want to be involved in the antifascist movement, get involved now. And not just on this specific issue. Don’t pontificate from ivory towers and expect militants to fall in line behind you. Because from where I’m standing, if you’re not prepared to put your neck on the line, you’ve made a deliberate decision to vacate the antifascist arena.”

    We will get involved on any issue we want. We neither need nor ask for your permission.

    We will pontificate as much as we want on any subject we want. We neither need nor ask for your permission.

    We will write whatever we want from whatever ivory tower we want. We neither need nor ask for your permission.

    And from “where your standing” I’d be suprised if you can see anything other than your own colon.

    Now, we’ve played with you long enough.
    Go bother some other grown up.

  35. Comrade T Says:

    That was weird, I knew the clocks went back last night, but reading Waterloo Sunset, I woke up and it was 1973!

    “Militants”, “decisions”?

    Next he’ll start quoting fucking Scmitt or Zizek or Badiou at us all. In the words of Marx, God help us all!

  36. Bob Says:

    I have to say I’ve been rather disappointed by this debate. There are a number of very important and interesting issues covered, and a number of insightful comments made about them, but the general tone has been one of mud-slinging and name-calling, putting words into each other’s mouths, making assumptions about each other. Here’s a couple of disjointed thoughts from me:

    ”the embrace for Israel by the least popular member of the Question Time panel last night would have given Pollard pause for thought.” This isn’t a “low” point to make – the same thought occurred to me http://brockley.blogspot.com/2009/10/live-blogging-bnp-on-question-time.html and to Miriam Shaviv. Pollard’s embrace of Kaminski, however, is part of a bigger picture with the JC and many in the Jewish community more broadly, that a friend of Israel is necessarily a friend of the Jews, when often the contrary is the case.

    However, the JC’s editorial policy on this is not the main issue. (And, to be fair to Pollard, he has given ample space to Martin Bright and others to pose the opposite view. See Keith Kahn-Harris’s CiF piece on this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/oct/19/left-decent-split-neoconservatives-politics ). What is more important is the apparent censure given by the Jewish Leadership Council to Board of Deputies president Vivian Wineman for simply raising this issue with Cameron.

    On a totally different note, most commentors here seem to assume that “the anti-fascist movement” means Unite Against Fascism, and see Waterloo Sunset’s defence of anti-fascism as a movement as a defence of UAF and the SWP. Having met WS around various comments threads over the years, I can tell you that WS has been nothing but critical of the UAF/SWP and its fake anti-fascism. WS comes from a different tradition, the tradition of Morris Beckman, represented through the 1980s and 1990s by Anti-Fascist Action, but also by grassroots groups across the country like The Monitoring Group, Tyne and Wear Anti- Fascist Association, the Colin Roach Centre and others. The work these groups did was usually low profile, working in communities where there were issues – and not running around with yellow lollipops or throwing eggs at MEPs. Because of the low profile nature of that work, this part of the movement has been eclipsed by the higher profile antics of the UAF. And because no significant left group has ever taken anti-fascist work seriously, the real anti-fascist movement has never had the resources to redress this.

    Hope Not Hate, in trying to develop a community-based anti-fascist strategy, has in some ways returned to this tradition. But Searchlight has a history of playing a malevolent role in the movement, stirring up rivalries, and passing on sensitive information in dangerous directions. It is this, and nothing to do with any pro-Israel agenda, that has made Searchlight difficult to work with for people like WS.

  37. zkharya Says:

    “Yep. Absolutely. David T went drinking with Atzmon and Engage refused to condemn him for it..”

    Oh, FFS…

    40 going on 14.

    Presumably you don’t rule out anyone’s discussing anything with anyone, nor even drinking tea or water at the same time, so your actual objection consists in the beverage’s being alcoholic.

  38. zkharya Says:

    I have to say, my chief objection to David T’s talk with Atzmon is Why would anyone seek out a discussion with such a vile individual?

    I’m not sure I’d do it myself, I find Atzmon so repulsive. And I think David T gave too much humanity to Atzmon in so doing. But David is a lawyer (?), and a lawyer’s brief often consists in talking openly with repulsive characters, even putting them at their ease, so they talk. David reported back that he finds Atzmon’s views no less repugnant, and that he wanted to find out more about what makes Atzmon tic.

    Know thine enemy, which is what David attempted to do. Even enemies talk, and drink, at the same time.

  39. Waterloo Sunset Says:

    “And, what action, what danger what risk WS is taking……………turning up to a Book Fair!
    “The recent talk at the anarchist bookfair by Morris Beckman being precisely the kind of event we need.”)”

    Actually, I’m mostly doing stuff round the EDL at the moment as you asked so nicely.

    So, explain to me why it’s such a terrible thing for me to suggest that people shouldn’t run entryist campaigns into antifascism. All I’m asking is that Engage actually operate as antifacists if they want to be involved in antifascist politics. And under all the heat and fury, the actual issue is that they don’t care enough aout antifascism to do so, but still want to shout the odds. “We will get involved on any issue we want. We neither need nor ask for your permission.

    We will pontificate as much as we want on any subject we want. We neither need nor ask for your permission.

    We will write whatever we want from whatever ivory tower we want. We neither need nor ask for your permission.”

    So it’s another bunch of trots waltzing into antifascism with no dedication to it. Slumming it for a year or so. Then leaving again leaving other people to clear up your mess.

    Typical.

    Remind me how you’re oh so diferent then the SWP again. Maybe you should get yourselves a regular paper to flog to disinterested shoppers?

  40. NIMN Says:

    Bob,
    Thanks for your comments.
    The deabte you mention in the first part of your comments was maturing into a quite interesting discussion; and one that I think is important to have. Indeed, Engage seems the ideal place to have that discussion. (It seems to attract people from the entire political spectrum from those on the right through to David Rosenberg – which, as noted, was more in tune with what was being said by some here than is usually the case).

    Then, out of nowhere Waterloo Sunset appears and “bam!”, he starts his thread about authentic anti-fascists and ends by making comparisons of Engage to the SWP and seems fearful that Engage will adopt a position of “entryism” apparently for no other reason that people dare consider the issue of anti-fascism.

    Having read your comments, I can perfectly understand why he would be so jumpy about the whole thing. I appreciate the years of work and of trust that needs to be built up to engage with the type of work he and others are doing. However, does he really think that “Engage”, a loose coaltion of people concerned withe the upsurge in antisemitism in its multivarious guises (including that of the BNP) would attempt either to usurp his work or, if it did chose to carry it out, do it without consultation and without alliances (after all, does he really think with Engage’s history and knowledge of the SWP and its fronts it would go anywhere near UAF!)

    Perhaps,, it would have been helpful had WS entered into a conversation with Engage, or, rather, with those who comment here, in a spirit of trust and comradeship, rather then merely laying down the rules about what other autonomous actors with vast experience in opposing antisemitism should do. As much as “Engage” or rather a few commentators could learn from WS, it might have occurred to him that he might have learned something from “us”. He chose not to take that route.

    “At the end of the Kahn-Harris article is the following,
    Maybe, then, what has been missing on the left for so long might be possible: a progressive coalition that will be uncompromising in confronting bigotry and oppression wherever it is found.”

    Unfortunately, from what WS has said, what one person takes as a “progessive coalition” (i.e. groups with different experiences of different facets of “oppression and bigotry, as well as opposing such things), WS sees as people trying to piss on his terrain and underming his and others’ work.

    This misunderstanding could have been avoided, had WS actually listened as much as he pointificated and sought to silence others; others who, by the way, are, his natural allies in the fight against fascism, even if in a way that differs from his own ideological and strategic perspectives.

    However, as things go; this whole thread has dissloved into surrealism.

  41. Mikey Says:

    Actually, it was me that introduced David T to Atzmon. Over the years I have met many extremists from the far-left to the far-right, Holocaust Deniers, former IRA terrorists, anarchists, radical Islamic extremists and the list goes on.

    You should be aware that Harry’s Place, and David T specifically, have been leading campaigners over the last five years or so against Atzmon. It was not so much, as Waterloo Sunset puts it, that “David T went drinking with Atzmon,” it was more that David T met Atzmon to find out some of his views that he had not published and the place they met happened to be in a public house. I do not see anything wrong with this. The leading anti-fascist magazine Searchlight have often used meetings with fascists to their advantage – One only has to consider the case of Ray Hill and what he did with the BNP whilst working working with people from that magazine. For why someone such as myself and maybe David T would want to meet such extremists, I suggest you read Jon Roson’s book, Them: Adventures With Extremists.

    http://www.jonronson.com/them.html

    It is a fascinating read.

  42. Mira Vogel Says:

    “It’s ok to associate with antisemites if you’re our mate”.

    I reckon people can do their anti-racist work as they wish, Waterloo. It’s not the associating that counts, it’s whether this association gives credibility or succour to racists. David T and Mikey used that occasion to expose and write against Atzmon, didn’t they? I don’t understand the problem you have with this. I reserve the right to carry on arguing, in pubs, with people who hold racists points of view. These arguments seem to happen to me often – I thought they did to everybody. I think it is a good thing to be in a position to understand and challenge a racist point of view, unmediated, from the horse’s mouth.

  43. Sarah Says:

    Returning to the issue of the BNP and Israel – I’ve just been looking at a thread on Harry’s Place

    http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/10/27/bnp-legal-director-still-loyal-to-griffin-fantasising-about-getting-arrested/#comments

    If you quickly scroll down the comments you’ll find a quite extraordinary one about Israel from a leading BNP member. *Not* in line with party policy! I won’t name the commenter because he comes whenever his name is typed like a kind of modern Mephistopheles.

  44. NIMN Says:

    Sarah,
    Thanks for this.
    It is also interesting that in making his “point”, the BNP “commentator” uses language about Israel = nazis that is also common within circles of the left.
    But as to the main thought, only a fool (Pollard?) could think that the right, let alone the far-right (from whichever country) could ever be “friends” of the Jews, on Israel or anything else for that matter.

  45. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Do you also notice the wonderful comment about finding out the names and addresses of the owners of the Guardian? One would have thought that he and his ilk might have noticed by now the existence of the Scott Trust and its successor.

    Or perhaps not.

  46. Poumed « Poumista Says:

    [...] and arguments: David Cesarani, Marek Edelman and Michal Kaminski – click the link from Engage, then return to read the comment [...]

  47. Bob Says:

    Just got to the obits page of the weekend’s JC, and there is the Marek Edelman obit, with his anti-Zionism in the second paragraph, alongside an obit for some communal makher who died in August. They move slow with their obituaries, presumably because Jews are dying too fast.


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